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Can Buddhism teach us something about sustainability?

The world is in an ecological crisis. All across the globe are signals of a world in trouble, melting ice, extreme weather; the disappearing rain forest Companies and wealthy investors put their money in water resources rather than oil. We are obligated to rethink past actions. The big question is, how shall these problems be solved? If we continue with an economic paradigm based upon money sequence, we might face vast ethical and dangerous international situation; toll barriers, water taxes, exploitation of landmasses, war, poorness, violence, and protectionism. However, is there a solution based on new values replace money? Can wealth be measured in happiness or compassionCan Buddhism contribute with fresh ideas for a successful sustainable future?

Who was Buddha?

Buddha was born as  Prince Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563–c.483 BCE), trough out his life, he seeks for a way to become happy and free from the sufferings he experienced. His theories and practices he found during his struggle to achieve this are now called Buddhism. The Sanskrit word Buddha means the awakened, wise or trained, in the word lies a great deal of sustainability as a concept. Non-violence is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. Non-violence or Ahimsa encourages non-harming attitudes toward all human beings and ecosystems.

Engaged Buddhism

Buddhism has earlier been criticized for their passive actions, withdraw from society and seldom take part in issues and conflicts. However, gradually, this has changed over the last 40 years, and few people tend to look at Buddhism in this way. Dalai Lama is an excellent example of it, and the most essential Buddhist practising engaged Buddhism is the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, and poet a Thich Nhat Hanh. In 1963 during the Vietnam War, the term Engaged Buddhism were Buddhist are concerned with social, political and economic problems. Furthermore, it took directly take part in eliminating poverty, disease, war, and exploitation.

  • The concept Engaged Buddhism. With the mindful and compassionate practice of Dharma, they are the human face of sustainability.

Nature, do you think we can rely on you?

Sustainability is described in many ways; however, modern sustainable thinking started in the late 1980s with the Brundtland Commission, and during the summit in Rio 1992, the definition of sustainability sounded; moderation is the solution to keep and remain Earth sustainable. Sustainability within a society is the ability to maintain the level of reproduction and balance of needs as food, shelter, energy over time. Buddhism, words described in details and even more detailed. Whatever scientist findings on global warming and the various reasons are not relevant. However, we can all agree that we share a planet with limited resources, more people and an outdated economic model based upon growth. This growth requires a consumer culture that moves goods rapidly. Since the economy is based on fast consumer products are not built with a short lifespan. In fact, product sustainability is inverse to economic growth and slows or breaks a fast consumer culture.

Shopping malls as spare time activity

Which shopping mall do you come from? Research and statistics show that one of the most extensive spare time activities for US females is spending time shopping. What triggers desire and rewarding spending time at the mall? Communication via Advertising, PR, storytelling and myth-making develops insecurity and a false hunger for material wealth. The illusionary forces massive, a blind consumer culture measure success with symbols; such as expensive cars, watches, yachts, fashion and look of the day. We admire successful people. However, it is a myth, because of media only writes about it, what about the 99.9 per cent that tried and failed. Life is unpredictable, it makes turns as in a labyrinth, we cannot control anything, we are as close to death every day as anybody with a deadly disease. Life is a risk, it is 100 per cent deadly, take chances, do not plan, live in the present, not past or in the future. Being here and now is life.  

Can Buddhism help turn this view?

Nevertheless, a shift to sustainability is needed, however, requires profound individual and social transformations throughout the world and that such changes necessitate the involvement of the spiritual traditions of the world. Buddhism can teach us a method on how these issues can be solved on an individual as well larger scale. In recent years, Buddhism economy has developed and gained a broader interest in the west. In the 1970s, E.F. Schumacher published one of the most important books about sustainable economics. The book Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered was written during his work in Burma. Buddhism economic has proven an alternative to mainstream economics based on growth. Two countries have based their fundamental economic model from a Buddhist view upon what can be regarded as valuable in a society; Bhutan Gross National Happiness and Thailand Sufficiency Economy.

  • Buddhism economy basic is based on moderation and fair sharing in a world of limited resources and proven an alternative to mainstream economics based on growth and infinite supply.

We are all interconnected

Buddha teachings stress that humans are included and a part of Nature, this view is different from significant religions as for example, Christianity regards humans superior and chosen by God. The world is continuous flux and is impermanent, Buddha. Buddhism is based on the idea that everything is interconnected and impermanent. Therefore, central to Buddha’s teachings is an individual development of compassion, love, and respect for all life, avoid killing of living beings include trees, the ocean, and the mountains. The Buddha, after his Awakening, chose to live in Nature even though he could quickly have returned to regular indoor life and made that his basis for teaching. His decision to remain in the wild most properly indicates that it supported his realization better.

Nature of things

His profound teaching of Vipashyana is an insight into the Nature of things, of the greatness and deepness of Nature beyond all concepts of time, space, location and relationship. Modern environmental philosophers s share these ideas. The more diversity, the better said philosopher and renaissance man Arne Naess founder of Deep Ecology movement in the 1970s. Næss named it Ecosophy, rooted in the view of Gandhi and Buddhism with respect for all living beings, non-violence, and self-realization within a personal contact with Nature. Naess lived as Buddha close to Nature and led several climbing expeditions in the Himalayas and published in the 1970s one of the most remarkable environmental book’ The Ecology of Wisdom

  • Buddhism Darma talks about all actions interconnected. Humans are included in Nature, however not superior. The importance of biodiversity, develop compassion and loving-kindness for life is essential. It is the core sustainable development.
  • When Buddhism talks about impermanence is actually an understanding of a planet with limited resources.

Sustainability is, in reality, a question of balance

We believe wishes for material wealth will give us happiness and well-being. However, it is creating more problems than it solves. In Buddhism, a central issue v is The Middle Way. Life and universe seek the balance between order and disorder.or what Buddha referred to as the balanced life. To stop or change the clinch to materialism and strive for balance towards spiritual is difficult; to develop a sustainable lifestyle require a change and more significant emphasis upon abstract values; to obtain a way of living based on fewer possessions, we must let the transcendent place take a more substantial part otherwise the loss of our former lifestyle and addiction to things will overwhelm us. In the definition of sustainability, this balance is described; Sustainability within a society is the ability to maintain the level of reproduction and stability of needs as food, shelter, energy over time.

  • One of Buddhism central issue is the middle way; a balance of life is one of the three main pillars of sustainability.
  • Buddhism offers a way to live with less focus on material wealth and with a greater emphasis on spiritual values, essential to transform and shift to a sustainable way of living.

Karma in a sustainable world

In the classical Indian language Sanskrit, Karma means action. Karma understood as the universal law of cause is not entirely right, accumulated Karma or karmic fruits, think of it like planting a fruit tree, you know it will carry fruits, however not the flavour and how many (it misinterpreted as effect to the cause, nevertheless non-linear). From a sustainability viewpoint, Karma can be understood by developing qualities such as compassion, loving-kindness, and respect for all life. The profound wisdom about how negative actions accumulated negative Karma, the effects might cause harm now or later.

Nevertheless, it is possible to turn negative emotions into beneficial. The enormous power positive Karma develops on a universal level is hardly understandable. Even small actions as recycle your newspaper or picking up a piece of paper on the street can create such Karma.

Can we learn to create positive actions? Buddhism have a method to turn old bad habits into new good ones. Where we can liberate negative actions. Buddhist texts talk about the issues of contentment, it arises not merely from the absence of afflictions but from the presence of their opposites. Thus, when greed is replaced by generosity, hatred by love, and delusion by wisdom, afterwards one is genuinely content, and when these replacements are permanent, then one has earned liberation from negative actions on a long-term perspective with less or no harm to the environment. In other words, when we know our weaknesses, we can turn them into strengths.

  • Buddhism has a method to turn old bad habits into new good ones. Where we can liberate negative Karma and develop a set of values where we can live a sustainable lifestyle.

The four simple steps of sustainability

How to live sustainably can be found in simple steps of the Buddhism philosophy, a set of tools were made 2500 years ago, we can use them to achieve a better and more sustainable way of living; we do not need to invent something that is already made. First of all, we need to exam who we are and understand how we can transform actions that are in conflict with a sustainable lifestyle. In Buddhism, the most important meditation is Shamata (Sanskrit means to rest the mind). Shamata meditation intention is to empty and establish peace of mind, furthermore, develop a state where we live in the present, not the past or in the future. When we achieve a state of mind that is less stressful we tend to view things and situations better, this gives us an opportunity to understanding why we do and handle without being aware of negative consequence we might cause. First then can we be able to do something about it?

  • Buddhism meditation and practice and teach us to be more in harmony and closer to nature, reflect, handle situations and make wiser decisions on a daily basis

Finally, can Nature rely on humans?

Buddhism is traditionally summarized in a formula called the four noble truths: (1) all forms of existence involve some suffering, (2) suffering arises because of idealistic expectations, (3) suffering can be eliminated by eliminating unrealistic expectations, and (4) there is a method to be followed to remove them. The technique itself is summarized in the formula: “Do what is beneficial, avoid doing harm, and keep the mind pure.” The first noble truth can be described that we all are, in one way or another, afflicted by negative actions caused to the environment. It might be actions that lead to diseases due to lack of clean water or skin cancer because of the damage to the ozone layer.

The second noble truth can illustrate the consumer culture and a society based upon our unrealistic expectation of what makes us happy, and the illusion of the world that is infinite of resources. The third noble truth gives a method to end this unrealistic clinching to materialism and harmful actions and last the fourth noble truth to practice and follow this method to complete it. The four noble truths offer us a diagnostics tool for a better sustainable future and can contribute to a better sustainable future.

Buddhism contribute to positive actions

  • The concept Engaged Buddhism. With a mindful and compassionate practice of Dharma, they are the human face of sustainability.
  • Buddhism economy basic is based on moderation and fair sharing in a world with limited resources and proven an alternative to mainstream economics based on growth and infinite supply.
  • Buddhism teaches, regards all things as interconnected. Humans are included in Nature, however not superior. The importance of biodiversity, develop compassion and loving-kindness for all life. It is the essential wisdom for the concept of sustainability.
  • When Buddhism talks about impermanence is actually an understanding of a planet with limited resources.
  • One of Buddhism most central issue is to live in balance or by the middle way; as well, one of the main pillars of sustainability.
  • Buddhism offers a way to live with less focus on material wealth and with a greater emphasis on spiritual values, essential to transform and shift to sustainability
  • Buddhism has a method to turn old bad habits into new good ones. Where we can liberate negative Karma and develop a set of values where we can live with a sustainable lifestyle.
  • Buddhism meditation and practice and teach us to be more in harmony and closer to Nature, reflect, handle situations and make wiser decisions
  • The four noble truths offer us diagnostics for a better sustainable future
Brain Meditation Infographics

Sources and Useful Information

     

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